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Monday, June 5, 2017

Mount Vernon finches 6/4/17
On Sunday morning we visited with friends at a church in southern Lancaster County. Upon arrival we read a note on the entry doors alerting us that baby birds were nestled
in a basket of flowers hanging on the door. In this photo I (Brooksyne) stood outside the door and captured four year old Eliza observing the nest of baby finches. Amazingly, Mama and Daddy Finch who obviously keep their brood well-fed weren't around during the commotion before and after church. Perhaps they feel their babies are safe among the Christian family.

"Breaking Bread From House To House"

Message summary: Next time you get together to share a meal with brothers and sisters in Christ remember these early meals and aspire to the same kind of unity, gladness and sincerity within your church body.

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"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:46-47).

Steve Wingfield 6/4/17Yesterday we attended Mount Vernon Christian Church in the southern part of Lancaster County. We had a brief period of ministry in this church nearly ten years ago and I was heartened when a man came up and told me he had remembered what I preached on! We also learned several read our daily encouragements so we were pleased to reconnect face to face with them.

A friend invited us for a special presentation at the church by Evangelist Steve Wingfield, who has a special ministry at the NASCAR races and was in the area due to the race this past weekend in Dover Delaware.

In his message he used the signal flags used during a race to correlate with the Christian race in a sermon titled "Winning The Race Everyday". (See below for a link to sermon audio and notes.)

It was a very edifying message and we'd like to share a point that especially caught our attention. Steve recognized that many do not have the giftings or calling to do a work like his. He then held up the green flag which signals the racer car drivers to go and reminded believers of the Great Commission that calls us to "Go". We are called to go evangelize and he encouraged those present to be involved in hospitality evangelism; that is, using your home and mealtime as a means of demonstrating the love of God, even as you share of His goodness and give a witness for the Lord.

Following the service yesterday we had a delicious chicken BBQ meal prepared by a member of the church along with other summer dishes brought in by church members. These types of potluck dinners are common in many churches and I doubt that any of our national readers need an explanation of potluck since everywhere we’ve lived potluck is popular. But for our international readers, potluck is a gathering where each family or individual contributes a food dish to be shared among the group. It results in a great time of fellowship and often an exchanging of recipes.

In my 40 years of ministry and during my childhood I never recall going to a bad potluck dinner. I suppose there have been individual dishes that I didn't return for seconds but overall I've always enjoyed potluck dinners. I like the variety of food in addition to the warm fellowship.

Sunnyvale dinner on the grounds 1977
Dinner on the grounds in Fair Grove, Missouri, 1976. Stephen was 21, I was 20 and we were married only a few months. The Sutherlands were in their 90's seen left of the tree. (I am smiling as I type this caption since warm memories return of this special gathering when we brought our picnic type foods together.)

But today let us consider a portion of the daily text in a more literal sense, "breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together." While enjoying dinners at church this text seems to be speaking of the blessing of hospitality in the home around the table.

Jim and Rosie Kreider 6/4/17As we were listening to the message I looked over and saw Jim and Rosie Kreider, a couple that served us a delicious meal in their home when we spoke at the church in early 2008. In fact we took a photo at that time and posted it on Daily Encouragement. We recall not only the tasty meal but fellowship around the table.

I mused concerning all the meals we have had in homes through the years and how many we have had over for a meal. For a number of years we have kept a registry of house meal guests and are now on our second book. Too bad we didn't keep a record from when we first got married! Likely there a few of you reading this message that can recall a meal around our table.

Steve made a point that when we die the things that matter most are faith (God), family and friends. That is so true. He shared that at his mom's funeral many people approached him and said, "I had a meal your Mom prepared". He also shared a colorful point of how his mom remained in ministry right up to the end. When she was 87 declining health required a move to a nursing home. During a visit he asked her how she was keeping busy and she told him, "I read to the old people".

Whether you call it potluck at the church building or a meal at home sharing with others our daily verse gives us a glimpse of life in the early church shortly after it was established. I doubt that they called them potluck but they ate together often so I consider Potluck Dinners to be Scriptural!

A few verses earlier these four components are recorded by Luke, describing the early church in the days following the Day Of Pentecost and outpouring of God's Spirit (a day we commemorated yesterday):

"They were continually devoting themselves:
    * to the apostles' teaching
    * and to fellowship,
    * to the breaking of bread
    * and to prayer."

It must have been a wonderful time with outstanding unity probably never seen since in the nearly 2000 year history of the church. "Day by day continuing with one mind". What an interesting and compelling description of unity!
"Breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart." That's a colorful, desirable description of meal time isn't it.  It would also be a welcome description of homes all over the world where families sit down and eat together around their dinner table and express love, interest, and support toward each other.

Next time you get together to share a meal with brothers and sisters in Christ remember these early meals and aspire to the same kind of unity, gladness and sincerity within your church body.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, times of refreshing and gladness of heart are present when we share with each other; whether it's food, warm conversation, working together or sharing one another's burdens. When we are in unity we become one in purpose and accomplish great things for Your kingdom. We want to be obedient to the teachings of the apostles, enjoy regular fellowship with one another and also faithfully pray for each other so that we are the kind of church that pleases You and is effective in our community. As we seek to reach others for Your kingdom help us to carve out time to invite others to dine at our table so that we have opportunity not only to share tasty food for the stomach but also satisfying food for the soul. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Potluck Musings

As a child in Belton, Missouri I recall enjoying the almond green bean casserole with mushroom soup that I figured came from a more high-class family than mine at that time (since almonds were expensive)! In the little country church near Fair Grove, Missouri where we pastored during our first year of marriage we often had dinner on the grounds. I can still recall the crusty fried chicken that Sister Moore brought in an old wicker picnic basket. In northern Pennsylvania I learned to enjoy the German sweet & sour three bean salad that I had no use for as a child. In New England it was the Portuguese dishes, especially those made with chourico or linguisa. Here in Lancaster County we also have a lot of great Pennsylvania Dutch foods, like pig's feet, pork stomach and other delicacies although I haven't developed a taste for all of them yet!

At a potluck when I was pastor I typically walked through and took smaller portions of dishes that looked interesting, sensitive that some are expecting the pastor to try their dish, also making an excuse to myself for over-indulging. (But, truthfully, I've had a few dear older ladies let me know they were hurt when I didn't try their dishes.)

One Sunday I was eating my meal and especially enjoying a tasty pineapple dish. I thought to myself, "Hhmm, I need to find out who made this to see if Brooksyne can get the recipe."

On the way home Brooksyne asked, "What was your favorite dish today?" Right away I responded, "Some kind of pineapple dish."  She smiled at me and said, "Well, thank you. That's sweet of you!" Only then did I catch on that she had made it.  I guess I wasn't paying much attention to her food prep in the kitchen on Saturday!

Online I found this: The term potluck comes from the traditional practice (not that it's entirely unknown among us moderns) of never throwing anything away. Meal leftovers would be put into a pot and kept warm, and could be used to feed people on short notice. This practice was especially prevalent in taverns and inns in medieval times, so that when you showed up for a meal, you took the "luck of the pot." A related term found its way into French usage, as an impromptu meal at home is often referred to as pot au feu, literally "pot on the fire."

Some photos from our experience yesterday.

Steve Wingfield helping Ester in race car 6/4/17
Steve Wingfield assisting Ester as she climbed into the window of the race car. The steering wheel had to be removed for anyone wanting to sit in the front seat.

Ester in race car 6/4/17
And here she is sitting in the driver's seat!

Steve Wingfield 6/4/17
Steve Wingfield next to the race car.

Herrs route truck 6/4/17
A replica of the original Herrs route truck.

Mount Vernon finches 6/4/17
Another photo of the finches in their nest hanging on one of the entrance doors to the church. We counted six nestled together.

Mark Pulliam at Mount Vernon 6/4/17
Mark Pulliam invited us to the service yesterday. He has been a friend for nearly twenty years and at one time was my boss when I worked for Marketplace Chaplains. He now serves as a hospice chaplain. Mark holds to time honored Bible-based values and I always enjoy our conversations. I teased him that being old-fashioned he must drive this old car! His granddaughter, Eliza, is featured in our lead bird photo.

Amish family going to church 6/4/17
We had an interesting route to the church service yesterday, travelling through the heart of Amish country with many colorful scenes of church traffic very unlike what most of you experience on Sunday morning! Looks like two families joined together for this open air ride. Tomorrow we will share more of these photos.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Winning The Race Everyday"  Evangelist Steve Wingfield  This is the sermon we heard yesterday. This page will open to a series of messages. Scroll down to the message for June 4, 2017. You can listen or look at the main points on a power point presentation.

Steve Wingfield ministries

This message has the photo of gathering around the Kreider table

"Come And Dine The Master Calleth"  Video  The Happy Goodman Family

It's hard to find music
related to today's theme but this song came to mind. When I began pastoral ministry in northern Pennsylvania in the late seventies we gathered monthly with other pastors in our area for a fellowship meeting. David Selleck an older pastor was our presbyter (term for area leader similar to overseer depending on denomination). I think without exception he would begin each meal time with this song!

"Suppertime"  Video  Written by Ira Stanphill who pastored here in Lancaster PA in the early sixties. I once was on a plane out of Texas and sat next to a man who attended the same church as Ira Stanphill at that time. He testified of his real commitment to the Lord and what a blessing he was in his older years. Ira finished the race and went to be with the Lord in 1993.

My favorite song written by Ira Stanphill is "Follow Me"  Video  I like this version sung in earnest by Kelly Willard.

I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair,
I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him so so tenderly,
"My feet were also weary upon the Calv'ry road,
The cross became so heavy I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me."

"I work so hard for Jesus" I often boast and say,
"I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune; I'm worth a lot to thee,"
And then I heard Him gently say to me,
"I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me."

Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday
'Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay,
"No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die,"
These are the words he gently spoke to me,
"If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand,"
But if by death to living they can thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to thee.

Here's a video tribute that includes several Ira Stanphill songs

Finally today:
JK Mechanical PTU 6/5/17
This morning we had a service call from JK Mechanical for the annual precision tune-up on our Carrier heat pump. Nice to see Mike (left), an experienced service tech mentoring John, a summer intern from Thaddeus Stevens College, in a vitally needed trade.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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